ARCIA update: lessons from the USA and more

Australian Radio Communications Industry Association

By Hamish Duff, President
Wednesday, 22 May, 2024

ARCIA update: lessons from the USA and more

Welcome to the latest edition of the ARCIA President’s Report, which finds us well into 2024 and busy as usual.

The opening major event in Perth set the year off to a great start, thanks to all the Western Australian members and ARCIA partners. Both the daytime conference and networking dinner saw record numbers and the feedback has been very positive. The conference program was a mix of familiar themes with some new areas of interest, and I think is providing great value to our member community. Sydney is the next major ARCIA event, with the conference and dinner on 30 May, and we expect to hear another great series of sessions in all areas of critical communications. And if you’re in Queensland, or visiting, don’t forget to make a note in your diary for 25 July in Brisbane too.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend Critical Communications World in Dubai this year, which is a huge event in the comms calendar, put on as always by TCCA; however, I was fortunate to attend IWCE in Orlando during March. It was great to be back in the USA for the first time since COVID hit and to me the show seemed to be back in full swing. While lots of the suppliers and ways of doing things were naturally focused on the US market, there are lessons to be learned for Australia. The USA has many areas of low population density and of course a massive challenge with indoor coverage for LMR, even with legislation to ensure indoor public safety coverage. The US market is a huge challenge for spectrum, technology and, of course, funding. However, when you see market forces at work, and technology working at scale, there is a better chance it will pass the same test Down Under.

It was also great to see so many ANZ companies represented in Orlando — too many to name here for fear I will miss someone. Of particular note was the company Analog Devices, and their unveiling of a brand new LMR chipset — a real demonstration that there is life in the LMR market yet. The new chipset promises a raft of new LMR and other possibilities that bode well for our industry.

The consistent theme we are seeing across all these conferences, and for many market verticals, is how to make the most of the available communication modes for end users. From LMR plus LTE to LTE over LEO satellite and everything in between, suppliers are finding new ways to deliver critical comms solutions to users. This is extending the value of LMR services to many more user groups, whether that’s simple voice-only communications or the expected additional data services, like location and messaging.

There’s quite a challenge for our industry learning new ways of integrating services, networks, devices and control rooms — and as always, responding to market trends has its moments, but our industry and people will be stronger for it. This is one of the reasons I enjoy the conferences around Australia; it helps us to understand the driving forces behind decisions and, most importantly, the impact it has on and for end users.

All these changes in the marketplace are one of the reasons that ARCIA is discussing our association name and branding, to more accurately reflect what we actually do and represent, as we are well beyond what was envisaged by our founders 17 years ago, so our constitution and branding are due for a refresh. When you consider the broad range of equipment and services our members deliver around Australia and the way they are used to deliver massive value to our economy, the word ‘radio’ simply does not seem to fit anymore. Our industry is so much more!

Hamish Duff, President, Australian Radio Communications Industry Association.

Top image showcases one of two ‘Lunch & Learn’ sessions at IWCE 2024.

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